‘Every time I step onto the track I do so to win, not to lose. It does not matter where and with whom I train, my mind-set will remain the same.’ This may sound like pure “war talk”, but it certainly was not meant to be. It is the honest reaction of Henricho Bruintjies (Tuks) when he was asked about the fact that he and Akani Simbine, the South African record holder in the 100 metres, will in future be training partners.
He says: ‘For me personally it is exciting to be training with Akani. I have to admit that there is a healthy rivalry between us, but we also respect each other. The good thing about training together is that we will be able to push each other, which will help both of us to find out what we are truly capable of.’ Simbine (Tuks/HPC) caused a major surprise at the ASA Nite Series on Tuesday when he won the 100 metres in 9.96 seconds to record a new South African record. Bruintjies says: ‘I don’t know where Akani got the energy from to run so fast. I am glad for him and it is exciting for South African sprinting.’
Before the race on Tuesday night Bruintjies and Simbine shared the South African record. Both of them clocked times of 9.97s last year. Bruintjies emphasized that right now running records are the last of his worries. However, he went on to hint that the record could be his again by the end of the year.
He says: ‘I have just begun to work with Werner Prinsloo (coach) and at the moment I am still taking it slightly easy. My goal is to be 110% racing fit by the time I leave to compete in Europe.’ On Saturday, at the Gauteng North Championships at Pilditch, Bruintjies and Simbine will race each other over 100 metres for the first time this season. In February Bruintjies competed in the 60 metres in three indoor meetings in Europe.
At the Istaf Indoor Meeting in Berlin he was second in a time of 6.62s. However, he made it clear that competing indoors is very different from racing the 100m. Bruintjies played down the hype about tomorrow’s race, by saying: ‘It is always a pleasure to race against Akani, but the local fans should realise that at the end of the day the only results that will really matter will be when we race internationally against the world’s best sprinters. Whether I beat Akani or he beats me is not going to help either of us to get to an Olympic final or to win a medal. Our true aim is to be at our best when we compete on the world stage. The fact that we are now training together can be crucial to ensure that we will both be successful in the end.’
Simbine (Tuks/HPC) agreed that training with Bruintjies could be beneficial to both of them. He says: ‘It is very exciting because I never had the opportunity to train with somebody as fast as Henricho. With the right mindset we will both be able to compete in Europe and at the Olympics and stand up against the best the rest of the world has to offer.’
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott